An issue that comes up often in psychotherapy is the need for perfection. Oftentimes clients have a perception, deeply, even unconsciously held, that they need to be perfect. It can feel as if the consequences of not being perfect are dire, and therefore the stakes are high. We may go to some lengths to avoid the truth of our own imperfections.
We project what is inside ourselves out on the world. We may require the same impossible standards from those we love and like. If we expect perfection, we are destined for a lifetime of disappointment, because our standard will not consistently be met. We may judge others harshly, their failings resonating with our own fears about our shortcomings, with strong emotions resulting.
So what can be done? Perhaps the path forward lies in breaking the perception of perfect and imperfect as opposites. What would it be like to be imperfectly perfect? Or perfectly imperfect? In Japan, there is a tradition of mending broken pots with gold, creating a new kind of beauty. I find this a powerful metaphor when considering shortcomings, a reminder to find better ways than judging.
Psychotherapy is a setting in which perfection can be explored, and it's nature experienced. Psychotherapists are not perfect. We make mistakes. We may inadvertently wound or undermine our therapeutic relationships, we are, like everyone else, flawed.
The art of psychotherapy is using these very human experiences to build a stronger relationship, to repair ruptures and through this to increase therapeutic intimacy. What results is a mindset where we can sit with who and what we are, with all our foibles and wrinkles, and still look with kind eyes.
To explore themes of perceived deficiency or inadequacy in your life, get in touch.
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